Do you have old obituary clippings in your files? Do any of those clippings hint at a tragic cause of death but not provide any details?
As I was going thru my WELLS family notebook, I came across one such clipping for Samuel Clark Wells and his wife, Icy Yola Brooks.
Samuel Clark Wells was born January 30, 1892, in Vanburan county, Iowa. He removed with his parents in 1907 to Woodson county, Kansas, where he has since made his home.
Icy Yola Brooks was born in Caldwell county, Missouri, August 25, 1891, and came with her parents to this county in 1907
These two were united in marriage on July 9, 1913, and to this union was born a son, Edgar, May 29, 1914.
Clark was converted to Christ in 1908 and became a member of the Christian church. He held his faith until his death. He was a true husband, an affectionate father a kind and thoughtful son and a helpful brother.
Icy was converted in 1905, joined the Methodist Episcopal church and was baptised in 1908. She lived a true and devoted Christian life. She was a devoted wife, a loving mother, a kind and affectionate daughter, a true and faithful sister and a friend to all.
Little Edgar came into this home to brighten, to cheer and to inspire. His life shone int he home as the brightest of stars shines in the heavens — but there came a cloud that overcast the bright star and its light cannot be seen. But behind that cloud that light is still shining and will be a signal to point us on to glory.
Clark leaves his father and mother, MR. and Mrs. w. H. Wells, three brothers and two sisters.
Icy leaves her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Brooks, and six brothers to mourn their loss.
Funeral services were conducted at the Christian church by the pastor, W. F. Kohl, and the whole community paid its sad respects and offered its sympathies to the stricken friends. The bodies were laid to rest in Graceland cemetery to await the call of God.
While my clipping only had the date of the paper (May 13, 1915), I knew from other research that Samuel Wells lived in Kansas. Thus, I was able to search Newspapers.com and found the obituary in the 13 May 1915 issue of the Woodson County Journal.
Further searching of Woodson County, Kansas papers uncovered two articles in other newspapers that provided the cause of death of Clark, Icy and Edgar Wells.
Triple Tragedy at ReservoirYates Center News, 7 May 1915, page 1
One of the saddest things that has ever occurred in Yates Center was the death by drowning on Sunday of Mr. and Mrs. Clark Wells and their eleven months old baby. They were at the home of Clark’s father, W. H. Wells, one mile west and a half mile south of town. About eight o’clock Sunday morning Clark said to his wife, “let’s go for a boat ride,” and, together with the baby, went toward the lake. It was an ideal morning for a row. It would have been hard to find a more perfect May day. The water was never more smooth, the skies more intensely blue. Mr. Wells Sr had been up most of the night with a severe toothache and had lain down soon after breakfast to get some rest. Shortly after 10 o’clock he arose, went outside and noting the upturned boat, became alarmed. He phoned to the water plant and finding that they had not been there, turned in the alarm. Chas. Sticher, who was fishing near by went in and without much trouble succeeded in recovering the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. wells In the meantime the alarm had brought a number of doctors who set heroically to work with the pulmotor. Dr Dingus, who came by way of the dam and was rowed across, accidentally discovered the body of he bab fully 400 feet from the others floating among the weeds. For fully two hours the doctors did all in their power to bring back a spark of life to the three, but it was useless for it had been too long. Geo. Winn, who passed the scene of the tragedy shortly after 8 o’clock, had noted the overturned boat, which was a frail little craft at best. No one will ever know just how the accident occurred, but it must have happened soon after they had entered the boat, as the bodies were recovered near the shore. Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, the father and mother of Mrs. Wells, had started for Oklahoma at 3 o’clock Sunday morning. They arrived home Monday afternoon. The stricken families have the deepest sympathy of the entire community.
The funeral services were held Wednesday afternoon at 3 o’clock from the Christian church, conducted by Rev. W. F. Kohl. A large crowd was in attendance and the interment was in Graceland cemetery.
Mr. and Mrs. Clark Wells and baby boy were drowned Sunday morning in the West end of the reservoir near their home. They left the house early in the morning for a pleasure ride in their row boat. Several persons passing along saw the upturned boat but were ignorant of the awful tragedy that had occurred. Mr. We..’s father with whom the young people were living noticed the boat and not seeing any near knew that they were beneath the waves. He first notified the near neighbors and later the word was phoned into town. This was about 10:30. Rescue parties went tot hem as soon as automobiles could be secured. The Wells bows had found the body of Mrs. Wells by the time that help had arrived. She was soon brought to shore. The search for Clark and the baby was kept up. Charles Sticher finally located the body of Clark by diving to the bottom some fifteen feet and with much exertion brought him to shore. The baby was later found more than 100 yards away, it having floated into some grass and was only a few inches under water.Woodson County Advocate (Woodson County, Kansas), 7 May 1915, page 5
Several hundred people had gathered by that time and for several hours doctors with the help of the strong men there worked to resuscitate them but to no avail. It was fully one o’clock p.m. before all hope had been abandoned. It is now thought that they had been under water for several hours. This however was not known at first as no one saw the accident.
Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Brooks, father and mother of Mrs. Wells had started for Western Oklahoma on the early morning train and had not reached their destination when the accident occurred. They were intercepted by wire west of Wichita and they arrived here ont eh afternoon train Monday.
Mr. and Mrs. Wells were each 23 years old. They had been married since July 1913 and had but the one child. The life of the entire family was lost at the same moment. They leave many relatives to mourn who have the sympathy of the community. They were all lain to rest in the Yates Center Cemetery Wednesday afternoon after service at the Christian Church by Rev. [?ld].
Once again Kansas newspapers provide more details about this family. I am grateful that the newspapers publishers in early Kansas initiated the process of preserving this valuable source!